In the world of cycling, there are many coveted jerseys, but nothing surpasses Le Maillot Jaune. In the month of July, the battle for the yellow jersey will resume as the 110th edition of the Tour de France takes place. Cycling enthusiasts eagerly anticipate the expected duel between Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar. But who else is in contention? In addition to the preview route Tour de France 2023 we from Cycling-Classics.com are presenting you the Contenders yellow jersey Tour de France 2023!
Contenders yellow jersey Tour de France 2023
A Tour de France winner must possess more than just climbing abilities, although the climbers are clearly favored this year. The organizers have designed only one time trial, and it is also a short one (22 kilometers) with significant elevation gain. With challenging mountain stages, a single test against the clock, and several explosive hilly stages, there is something for everyone in the upcoming Tour.
And as always, having a strong team for support is crucial for a rider with ambitions for the overall classification. This is especially important in the first highly nervous and demanding week of the Tour, starting in Bilbao and featuring some treacherous opening stages in Basque territory. Who are the contenders yellow jersey Tour de France 2023?
Biggest contenders yellow jersey Tour de France 2023: Vingegaard versus Pogačar
It’s clear. The biggest contenders yellow jersey Tour de France 2023 are Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar. Check for example the bookies. Either it’s Unibet or Bet365 or some local parties, such as Bingoal (Belgium) or TOTO (The Netherlands): Vingegaard and Pogačar are close to each other and then you have a big gap…
****** Jonas Vingegaard
Let’s first start with Jonas Vingegaard. The defending champion, who is going start with number 1! In recent years, we always considered Tadej Pogačar as the top favorite for the overall victory, but this year the dynamics have shifted. This is partly due to Pogačar’s lack of preparation (we’ll discuss that later), but also because of the form of his main competitor, Jonas Vingegaard. The Danish rider has taken an extra step in his development since his Tour win. The Jumbo-Visma leader now dominates almost every race he participates in. He has already won the O Gran Camiño, Tour of the Basque Country, and Critérium du Dauphiné this year.
In that last “preparation race” for the Tour, Vingegaard proved to be unstoppable for the competition. Not only was he the best time trialist among the GC contenders, but he also left his rivals struggling on the climbs. The difference between him and riders like Jai Hindley, Ben O’Connor, and Richard Carapaz, whom he will face again in the Tour, was immense. In other words, Vingegaard is ready to defend his title and make a bid for his second consecutive Tour victory. The 26-year-old rider has had a perfect preparation and will start in peak form.
His main rival, Pogačar, may need some time to reach his top level. The question is whether it’s already too late to catch up. Repairing any damage suffered along the way won’t be easy. On paper, Vingegaard also has a formidable team supporting him. Which other Tour contender can rely on the likes of Wout van Aert, Tiesj Benoot, Wilco Kelderman, Dylan van Baarle, Sepp Kuss, Christophe Laporte, and Nathan Van Hooydonck? Exactly, Jonas Vingegaard…
**** Tadej Pogačar
It may not be entirely fair to single out a top favorite and especially not to exclude Tadej Pogačar as the top favorite. After all, the Slovenian has already won the Tour twice and was undoubtedly the man of the spring season. But yes, that darn wrist injury. It did affect Pogačar in the lead-up to the Tour start in Bilbao. A crash in Liège-Bastogne-Liège left the UAE Emirates rider sidelined for a while and completely disrupted his Tour preparation. The past few weeks have been focused on regaining fitness, but with an adjusted program.
Fortunately for Pogačar, his recovery has been progressing well in recent weeks, and he even participated in the Slovenian championships. As if he had never been away, he won both the time trial and road race. “A nice boost towards the Tour,” was his initial reaction. The competition, and we’re putting it mildly here, was not exactly top-notch. Therefore, we can’t take this as a benchmark for the Tour. The big question remains: how good is Pogačar at the moment? We have no doubt that he will appear in good form at the start, but will it be enough to immediately put pressure on Jonas Vingegaard?
The beauty of this Tour is that we will get an immediate answer to this question, as the first stages on Basque soil are already very challenging. Pogačar hopes to reclaim the Tour throne after being defeated by Vingegaard and his Jumbo-Visma team last year. The Slovenian couldn’t always rely on his team in critical moments last year, so the team has strengthened itself by adding Adam Yates. The British rider is being touted as a co-leader by team manager Mauro Gianetti. Mikkel Bjerg, Felix Großschartner, Rafal Majka, and Marc Soler are usually very loyal and strong teammates.
*** Jai Hindley
After Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar, there is a significant gap in the contenders’ list. With all due respect to the other general classification riders, the Danish and Slovenian riders truly stand out. A third place in the Tour would likely feel like a victory for many riders. Jai Hindley could be the biggest rival for Vingegaard and Pogačar. The Australian climber from BORA-hansgrohe is a pure stage racer who particularly excels in three-week races. He has demonstrated this in recent years, with his Giro d’Italia victory in 2022 as a notable highlight.
Can Hindley immediately compete for the overall victory in his first Tour? His form is certainly promising, as the 27-year-old rider finished a respectable fourth in the Critérium du Dauphiné in the lead-up to La Grande Boucle. That bodes well for the Tour, especially considering that Hindley thrives in a series of challenging stages. There is a reason why he consistently shines in the third week of a Grand Tour. With only one individual time trial of just 22 kilometers and several mountain stages, the route is also perfectly suited to his strengths. As the saying goes, “While two dogs fight for a bone, Jai Hindley might just walk away with it.”
** Richard Carapaz
No, if we consider Richard Carapaz’s performances this season, the Ecuadorian rider is at best an outsider. However, we still give the EF Education-EasyPost rider two stars because Carapaz knows better than anyone how to prepare for a Grand Tour and what it takes to excel over three weeks. His past results in Grand Tours illustrate this. His 2019 Giro d’Italia victory stands out, but the 30-year-old rider has also stood on the podium of the Tour de France (3rd in 2021) and the Vuelta a España (2nd in 2020). He was also the runner-up in last year’s Giro d’Italia.
This season hasn’t been particularly impressive for Carapaz, partly due to a tonsillectomy and a disrupted preparation. He did win the Mercan’Tour Classic last month, but he struggled in the Critérium du Dauphiné. Is there a reason to panic? An experienced rider like Carapaz won’t panic easily, but he may not be overflowing with confidence either. Within the EF Education-EasyPost team, there is also a focus on Rigoberto Urán, who finished second in the Tour in 2017, but the now 36-year-old Colombian is not seen as a potential overall winner at the moment.
* Ben O’Connor
Two years ago, Ben O’Connor was a surprising name in the top 5, but now most cycling experts see the Australian as a candidate for a high placement in Paris. The 27-year-old rider, designated as the leader for the general classification by his team AG2R Citroën, had an seemingly ideal preparation for the Tour de France. Prior to the French race, he finished third in the Critérium du Dauphiné, behind Jonas Vingegaard and Adam Yates, but ahead of riders like Jai Hindley, Guillaume Martin, and Enric Mas.
With O’Connor’s form looking good and a well-suited route in July, featuring plenty of climbing and relatively few time trial kilometers, the climber is certainly favored. However, O’Connor will often have to rely on his own strength in the upcoming Tour. AG2R Citroën is not a weak team overall, but it pales in comparison to Jumbo-Visma and UAE Emirates. However, O’Connor can count on Felix Gall as a true ally in the mountains. The Austrian climber made an impression in the recent Tour de Suisse.
Contenders yellow jersey Tour de France 2023: dark horses
Dark horse 1: Enric Mas
The glory days of Spanish cycling are a thing of the past. Where has the time gone when Miguel Indurain dominated the Tour? Spanish cycling fans will undoubtedly reminisce about the glory years of Alberto Contador. While the next Spanish super champion, Juan Ayuso, is on the horizon, the 20-year-old Spaniard will make his Tour debut in 2024. In the upcoming edition, the focus will mainly be on Enric Mas and Mikel Landa. Mas is the leading figure for Movistar and hopes to make a strong impression in the general classification this year.
Mas has previously finished fifth and sixth in the Tour de France and is once again a contender for a top 5 placement. Is there more potential to be unlocked, or has the 28-year-old Mas reached his limits? That is the big question, but the designed route, with a limited number of time trial kilometers, should suit him well. His performance in the Critérium du Dauphiné was relatively subdued, but this was largely due to health issues. Now that Mas is fit again, he is ready to play a leading role. Can he surprise from the shadows and truly compete for the yellow jersey?
Dark horse 2: Mikel Landa
f there were an award for the “most stylish climber” in cycling, Mikel Landa would likely emerge as the winner. There is no rider who conquers the mountains with such grace, hands on the drops and standing on the pedals. Unfortunately for Mikel Landa, professional cycling focuses on who can ride from point A to point B the fastest, and there is always someone better. The Bahrain Victorious rider is always in contention, but winning proves to be oh so difficult for the Basque rider. Yet, Landa once again takes on the role of team leader in this year’s Tour, hoping for a new standout performance.
In his last four Tour de France participations, Landa finished fourth, sixth, seventh, and fourth, respectively. Consistency is there, but can the elegant climber finally make the leap to the podium at the age of 33? It might be a must this year, especially with only one (shorter) individual time trial, which has traditionally been Landa’s weakness. Landa fell below expectations in the Critérium du Dauphiné, but the rider himself is not worried at all. “It will prepare me for the Tour,” he expressed. Based on his excellent pre-season form, we can certainly expect something from this mountain goat!
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